Archives

Imbolc/Candlemas Lore

Imbolc/Candlemas Lore

Imbolc is one of the four principal festivals of the Celtic calendar, celebrated either at the beginning of February or at the first local signs of Spring. Originally dedicated to the goddess Brighid, in the Christian period it was adopted as St Brigid’s Day. In Scotland the festival is also known as Latha Fhèill Brìghde, in Ireland as Lá Fhéile Bríde, and in Wales as Gwyl Ffraed.

While in the Northern Hemisphere Imbolc is conventionally celebrated on 1 February, in the Southern hemisphere it is sometimes celebrated on the calendar date, but those who see it primarily as a celebration of spring may move it to 1 August.Fire and purification is considered by many to be an important aspect of this festival. Brigid (also known as Brighid, Bríde, Brigit, Brìd) is the Goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft. As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing. To some, the lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

The holiday is a festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring. Rituals often involve hearthfires, special foods, divination or simply watching for omens (whether performed in all seriousness or as children’s games), a great deal of candles, and perhaps an outdoor bonfire if the weather permits.

This season belongs to Brigid, the Celtic goddess who in later times became revered as a Christian saint. Originally, her festival on February 1 was known as Imbolc or Oimelc, two names which refer to the lactation of the ewes, the flow of milk that heralds the return of the life-giving forces of spring. Later, the Catholic Church replaced this festival with Candlemas Day on February 2, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and features candlelight processions. The powerful figure of Brigid the Light-Bringer overlights both pagan and Christian celebrations.In keeping with the policy of the Catholic Church to subsume pagan festivals into Christian feast-days, the Day of Bride became equated with Candlemas on February 2nd, the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Certainly, the service most used for this day in the medieval church made much of this symbolism, playing upon images of the appearance of divine light in the darkness of human sin, of renewal and rebirth of light in the dark time of the year, and of the new light of heaven come to transform an old world.In Britain, Candlemas was celebrated with a festival of lights. In the dark and gloomy days of February, the shadowy recesses of medieval churches twinkled brightly as each member of the congregation carried a lighted candle in procession around the church, to be blessed by the priest. Afterwards, the candles were brought home to be used to keep away storms, demons and other evils.

This custom lasted in England until it was banned in the Reformation for promoting the veneration of magical objects. Even so, the symbol of the lighted candles had too strong a hold on the popular imagination to be entirely cast aside.

Finally, traces of the festival of the growing light can even be traced to modern America in the Groundhog Day custom on February 2.  If the groundhog sees his shadow on this morning, it means there will be six more weeks of winter. The custom comes directly from Europe, and Scotland in particular, where an old couplet goes:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
there’ll be two winters in the year.

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic, Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget’s Day (Christian), Candlemas, Candlelaria (Mexican), the Snowdrop Festival. The Festival of Lights, or the Feast of the Virgin. All Virgin and Maiden Goddesses are honored at this time.

Deities of Imbolc

All Virgin/Maiden Goddesses, Brighid, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Gaia, and Februa, and Gods of Love and Fertility, Aengus Og, Eros, and Februus.

Herbs of Imbolc

Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy, Violets, and all white or yellow flowers.

Incense of Imbolc

Basil, Bay, Wisteria, Cinnamon, Violet, Vanilla, Myrrh. Imbolc/Candlemas

Incense Recipe

3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Dragon’s Blood
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part Cinnamon
a few drops Red Wine

Stones of Imbolc

Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Turquoise.

Foods of Imbolc:

Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Poppyseed Cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Raisins, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

Imbolc Recipies

Honey Cakes

By Terry Paajanen

Little fried cakes, dipped in honey and nutmeg. A delightful sweet Imbolc treat.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup Riesling wine
1 egg
2/3 cup flour
1 cup honey
2 tbs sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Dash of salt

PREPARATION:

Beat the egg together with the wine. In another mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Stir until blended through. Let sit for 30 minutes.

In another small bowl, mix the honey and nutmeg. In a skillet, heat up about a 1/2 inch of oil. Drop a tablespoon of batter into the oil and fry until golden brown. Drain off the oil, and dip into the honey mixture.

Poppy Seed Bread
By Terry Paajanen

Seeds are often used in any Imbolc recipe. Here is a simple seed bread that is just delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

5 eggs
3 3/4 cup flour
2 cups half n half
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup poppy seeds
7 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

PREPARATION:

Preheat your oven to 350F. With a hand mixer, blend together the poppy seeds, oils, eggs, sugar, vanilla and half n half. Add flour and baking powder. Mix together on high speed for 30 seconds. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.

Bake for one hour or until tops of loaves are brown.

Returning Sun Spice Bread
By Akasha

1 1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup poppyseeds
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup raisins, plain or golden
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup Karo golden corn syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tbs. milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. mixed spices**

**Equal parts of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Sift the flour, soda, and baking powder into a non-metal bowl. Add the mixed spice and ginger. Next add the brown sugar and raisins. Mix. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and the syrup over a low heat, then pour liquid into the well in the middle of the flour mixture. Add the beaten egg and the milk, and mix very well. Pour into a well greased 2-lb loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes. This bread can be made the night before as it improves with age. Makes 8-10 servings.

Imbolc Ritual Cake
By Akahsha

13/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbs. poppyseeds
1 tbs. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
powdered sugar

This is all done in one pan, so clean up is a breeze! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, poppyseeds, baking soda, and salt with a fork in an ungreased 9″x9″x2″ baking pan. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the powdered sugar. Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, and the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 8 servings.

Lamb Stew
By Terry Paajanen

A hearty Irish lamb stew that’s pretty easy to make.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 lbs bacon, diced
6 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup water
4 cups beef stock
1 cup white wine
4 cups carrots, diced
2 large onions, diced
3 potatoes
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced

PREPARATION:

Saute the bacon in a large skillet, and then set aside (save the meat and the fat). In a bowl, coat the lamb meat with salt, pepper and flour. Brown in the bacon fat. Remove the lamb from the pan and put in a large stock pot.

Leave about a quarter cup of fat in the pan. Saute the garlic and one chopped onion until soft. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan to deglaze then pour pan contents into the stock pot along with the bacon, beef stock and sugar. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Imbolc Altar

Imbolc is a festival of light, reflecting the lengthening of the day and the hope of spring. White, the color of light and milk, appears predominantly. Use a white altar cloth, add white and yellow flowers and candles.  Use votives or tea lights in glass jars that the kids can decorate to get them to participate. Be sure to use extra caution with candles if you have little ones. You may even choose to abstain from lighting them altogether and just keep them on the altar unlit for symbolic reasons. If candles are absolutely out of the question, use strings of holiday lights or make candles out construction paper.

Colors of Imbolc

White, Pink, Red, Yellow, lt. Green, Brown.

Spellwork for Imbolc

Imbolc is good for psychic work: still the dark time of the year, but looking toward spring. It’s also a good time to make your space hospitable for such work, banishing old energy to clear the way for new. Traditionally, witches purify themselves and their space at Imbolc. Any kind of cleansing or banishing will do, but consider ones that include fire and water, sacred to Brighid. Once purified, you’re ready to go further; at Imbolc, covens initiate new witches.
The spark of summer dances in the future now; Imbolc is a good time to seek inspiration, especially for healers and smiths of words or metal.  Imbolc is a white time, burning with inspiration and protection, cool with healing and purification. Prophesy flares, painting luster on the dark. Light your candle, call on Brighid, and know that under the snow the seeds of spring stir.

This is a time for purity, growth and Renewal. Spells that celebrate the Reunion of the Goddess and the God, fertility, and dispensing of the old and making way for the new are appropriate during this time.

Imbolc Activities

* This is traditionally a time of purification — clean your house! If you have any Christmas greenery lingering, burn it now. Make your own Brighid’s crosses and hang them up, especially in the kitchen where her influence can bless your food.

* Put out food — cake, buttered bread and milk will do — outside your door: Brighid and her cow walk through the neighborhood tonight, and will appreciate your offering.

* Leave a silk ribbon on your doorstep for Brighid to bless: It can then be used for healing purposes.

* Meditate upon what you would like to see grow in health and strength this year: for yourself, your family, your community, the Earth, and ask for Bride’s blessing upon your prayers.

* Candle Lighting, Stone Gatherings, Snow Hiking and Searching for Signs of Spring, Making of Brideo’gas and Bride’s Beds, Making Priapic Wands, Decorating Ploughs, Feasting, and Bon Fires maybe lit.

* Light a candle and burn sandalwood incense.

* Make dream pillows for everyone in the family (great to do with kids!)

* On Imbolc Eve, leave buttered bread in a bowl indoors for the faeries who travel with the Lady of Greenwood. Next day, dispose of it as the “essence” will have been removed.

* Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple GOddess and leave until Ostara.

* Cleanse the area where you do card readings or scrying with a censor burning rosemary or vervain, and say:

“By the power of this smoke I wash away the negative
influences that this place be cleansed for the Lady and her babe.”

 

spacer

Imbolc/Candlemas Rituals

Simple Imbolc/Candlemas Ritual

Imbolc is a festival of lights to herald the coming of spring. A popular Imbolc activity is to prepare seed for spring planting. Lay out the altar with your regular altar tools and add these extras: a bowl of earth with a seed of some sort, as many white tapers on the altar as is safe, and seasonal decorations, such as evergreens, sun wheels, or a cup of melted snow. The altar cloth shall blue, and the altar candles shall be green and white.Cast the sacred circle, and invoke the God and the Goddess. Then bring the seed and dish of earth or planting pot to the front of the altar. Hold the seed in your hand, knowing that it is the beginnings of life. Bless it in this manner:

In my hands I hold the seed of beginnings,
of life, wisdom, and of coming spring.
I ask the God and the Goddess to place a blessing on it
so that it may prosper in the coming season.

Think of something you want. It could be a request of the God and the Goddess, or something you want from yourself. Concentrate on this as you hold the seed.

With this seed I plant a request,
and hope that with careful nurturing and daily care,
my goals may come to fruition in time.

Having said this, place the seed in the soil and cover it. What is to be done with it after this is up to you. Since the action is, for the most part, symbolic, you may choose to throw it away(a waste of a perfectly good seed, if you ask me) but many find it useful to grow the seed and keep the plant around as a reminder.Hold the simple feast, and then you may do any magic or seasonal activities that you had planned for this evening. One Imbolc tradition is to weave corn dollies. Banish the sacred circle.

References:

http://www.tryskelion.com/imbolc.htm


Imbolc/Candlemas Ritual
By Michael Hall

On your altar should be placed a circle of 13 stones and, within the circle of stones, a circle of 13 candles. Within the circle of candles should be spread some maize – i.e. corn meal – and in that a waxen female candle to symbolize the Goddess on your altar. On the eastern side of the altar should be placed a small sheaf of grain with a candle inserted inside it.

You should dress in your usual ceremonial garb for Magickal rites or skyclad, as you prefer.

Retire to bathe in salt-water (use sea salt) before the ritual. As you do so picture the water cleansing the soul and spirit, just as it cleanses the body. When you have dressed, anoint yourself with a holy oil. When you have prepared yourself, sit in a dim quiet place and light a candle – ONE THAT IS NOT BEING USED IN THE RITES – and meditate on how at this time of year the Goddess in her fiery aspect AS LIGHT was welcomed back into the Temples and the Homes of the land.

Take this candle and walk slowly to your altar. Place it in the circle of the 13 candles. Then light the two altar candles, which are separate from the circle of lights also, and the incense. (Incense should be stick or powdered incense on charcoal in a swinging burner.) Then light all the quarter candles in the 4 directions, starting in the east and going clockwise. Cast your circle in the usual manner, but Invoke the Goddess with the following:

“Sacred womb, giver of the secrets of Life,
Mother of all that exists in the Universe,
I ask your guardianship of this gathering
and your assistance in my work.
I am gathered in celebration of your gifts and my work is most holy.
SO MOTE IT BE”

and Invoke the God in the following manner:

“Fire of the sky, guardian of all that exists in the Universe,
I ask your guardianship of this gathering
and your assistance in my work.
I am gathered in celebration of your gifts and my work is most holy.
SO MOTE IT BE”

(continue with the circle casting if it is not already finished) Light the 13 candles and then the Goddess candle in the center and say:

“Warm and quickening Light
awaken and bring forth beauty
for thou art my pleasure and my bounty
LORD and LADY
OSiRIS AND ISIS”

(or you may substitute whatever names your circle uses for the God and the Goddess – or those you personally prefer)

Reflect a moment on the coming of the light and offer up the incense. say:

“O ancient Ones
Timeless Goddess and Sacred King
who art the heralds of springtime and it’s bounties
be with me now in celebration
Hail to Osiris and Isis
Harvest giver and blessed Lady
Let this be a time and a place sacred to your power and your beauty
SO MOTE IT BE”

Light the candle in the sheaf of grain and hold it up with the loaf of bread in the other hand and say: (or the cakes – whatever you or your tradition uses for the cakes and wine/juice ceremony)

“My Lord and Lady,
as the seed becomes the grain,
so the grain becomes the bread,
Mark the everlasting value of our seasons and their changes.”

Break a piece of the bread or cakes off and burn it as an offering in the central candle. Then say:

“In the deepest Icy Winter the seed of the Earth lies deep within the womb of the Great Mother. The Spring brings the heat of the Father and with their joining comes new life. The completion of the cycle brings food to the children of the world. As I taste the food I shall know the wisdom of the cycles and be blessed with the food of wisdom throughout my life”

Consecrate cakes and wine/juice in the usual manner and partake of them, but first raise your chalice or drinking horn and say:

“Hail to thee ISIS
Hail to thee Osiris
For thou art blessed”

After this commune in meditation with the Lord and lady for a while, then close the circle in your usual manner.

References:
http://www.witchway.net/ritual/imbsol.html

distributed by PAN – the Psychic Awareness Network – 1703-362-1139


Detailed Imbolc/Candlemas Ritual By Akasha

Tools:

In addition to your magick tools, you will need:

  • A White Altar Cloth
  • Light Green Taper Goddess Candle
  • Light Yellow Taper God Candle
  • 13 White 4″ Stick Candles
  • Brideo’ga*
  • Small Woven Basket with White Flowers
  • Pentacle Candle Wheel
  • Handful of Acorns
  • Cauldron
  • Snow/Crushed Ice
  • Small White Pillar Candle
  • Potpourri Holder
  • Tea Lite
  • Basil, Bay, Heather Flowers, Cinnamon and Vanilla Potpourri Blend
  • Long Wooden Stick Matches

Preparation:

Sweep area, moving in deosil direction. Outline your circle with white cord Angelica leaves. Place Pentacle Candle Wheel in the center of altar. Place the lt. green taper Goddess candle to the top left of altar and the lt. yellow taper God candle to the top right of altar. Put the white flowers in the basket as bedding for the Bride’s Bed, then place the Brideo’ga atop the flowers. Place the basket in front of the Goddess candle, to the left of the Pentacle Candle Wheel. Place the acorns in front of the God candle, to the right of the Pentacle Wheel. Place the tea lite in the bottom of potpourri holder, and put holder at front center of the alter. Place white pillar candle in the middle of the cauldron, fill cauldron about 1″-2″ with snow or crushed ice, and position on floor in front of altar. Put the container with potpourri where it can be reached easily. Place the rest of your tools and props according to personal preference. Bathe or shower for purification. Ground and center. When ready, put on some soothing music associated with this Sabbat and your ritual.

Cast circle by holding out your right hand and tracing over the cord or leaves in a clockwise direction. As you trace over the outline envision flames of pure white rising up along the perimeter. When the beginning and the end join the circle is complete. Step up to the cauldron and light the white pillar candle, saying:

“Amidst the darkness the Lady is stirring,
Gently awakening from frozen dreams,
All the world has awaited this moment The return of the Maiden,
And Her promise of oncoming Spring.”

Call Quarters. As this is a time to honor Mother Earth as she wakes from her winter’s recovery of giving rebirth to the Sun King at Yule, start with North, the element Earth. Pick up the container of potpourri, step up to the altar and pour some into the holder, saying:

“Powers of Earth, the Maiden awakens!
Come join the circle and share in the light.”

Put the container back where it was. Light the white candle at the North point of the Pentacle Candle Wheel. Continue, by waving your hand over the potpourri as if to create a breeze on which to carry the scent, saying:

“Powers of Air, the Maiden awakens!
Come join the circle and share in the light.”

Light the white candle at the East point of the Pentacle Candle Wheel. Light the tea candle in the bottom of the potpourri holder, saying:

“Powers of Fire, the Maiden awakens!
Come join the circle and share in the light.”

Light the white candle at the South point of the Pentacle Candle Wheel. Pour some water into the holder with the potpourri, saying:

“Powers of Water, the Maiden awakens!
Come join the circle and share in the light.”

Light the white candle at the West point of the Pentacle Candle Wheel. Remove the white candle from the top point of the Pentacle. Since Akasha is the omnipresent, it need not be invoked. Light the candle and invoke the Goddess and the God by lighting the lt. green Goddess candle and the lt. yellow God candle with the white candle. Place the white candle back in the top point of the Pentacle Candle Wheel, saying:

“Be with me now, oh Ancients, eternal,
Hear now my prayers, hopes and dreams.

The Goddess has wakened, once more as the Maiden
By loving caresses from the strengthened Sun King.”

Light the inner cross points of the Pentacle Candle Wheel, starting with the cross point to the right of the North point. Light all 5 cross points in succession, saying:

“The Earth now grows warmer, as the Wheel again turns
And as each passing day adds strength, To the Sun King’s rays
The Maiden, of his gift of life, now silently does yearn.”

Take a couple of the acorns from in front of the God candle and place them in the Bride’s Bed with the Brideo’ga. Light the three aspects of the Goddess candles. All aspects are white because She is the Triple Goddess appearing as the Maiden, pure, and renewed. Step back from the altar and contemplate the light that is brought about by the re-union of the God and the Goddess saying:

“Behold the God and Goddess,
Lord of the Forest and his Bride,
Once again the Earth is blessed
With life anew inside.
Seeds shall soon begin to sprout
And creatures shall young bear
For this is the Promise, the Cycle of Life
That is born of the love They share.”

Now is the time for meditation and any spellworkings. Spellworkings associated with Imbolc include those for fertility, defining and focusing on goals for the future, organization, health, and protection. Next, celebrate with Cakes and Ale (Poppyseed Cakes* and Spiced Tea*) Ceremony, saving some for the wee Folkes, outside. Thank the God and Goddess for Their presence snuff their candles. Thank and release the Quarters, saying:

“Though you leave this circle, tonight,
Water, Fire, Air, and Earth
Your symbols shall linger on a while
Blessing my home and hearth.
The herbs that scent this room tonight,
Were chosen with loving care,
To bless me, my family and my friends,
And my sisters and brothers everywhere.”

Snuff each of the white candles at the directional points of the Pentacle Candle Wheel, starting with the candle at the top point first, then the West point and working in a widdershins direction. Snuff the inner cross point candles also in a widdershins direction. Finally snuff the three aspects of the Goddess candles. Step back from the altar and face the cauldron with the white pillar candle still burning brightly saying:

“I honor Thee, Maiden, most blessed Bride
As your candle burns through this night
And thank you for the renewed life you offer us all
As you emerge from the dark to the light.”

Release the circle. Clean up, place the cauldron from the floor onto the middle of the alter. Let the candle burn out by itself. Place the potpourri in a spot where its scent and blessings fill the house. You are done.

spacer

Candlemas Crescent Cakes

by Gerina Dunwich

1 1/4 cups Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
1 cup Finely Ground Almonds
3 drops Almond Extract
1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, softened
1 tablespoon Honey
1 Egg Yolk

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Add the butter, honey and egg yolk
and mix together well. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and then chill for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready, pinch off pieces of the dough (about the size of plums) and shape them into crescents. Place the crescents on a well-greased cookie sheet and bake in a 325-degree preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes.

This recipe yields about one dozen Candlemas Crescent Cakes.

(The above recipe for Candlemas Crescent Cakes is directly quoted from Gerina Dunwich’s book: The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes, page 166

spacer